Valentine's in-depth conversation with Bob Costas

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Valentine's in-depth conversation with Bob Costas

Every so often, something in the dozens (and dozens) of e-mails that arrive here daily catches your eye.

Like Bobby Valentine talking about an "amazing" conversation he had with Josh Beckett in which Beckett explained "the method to the madness" as to why he can be so, ah, deliberate on the mound. And how he plans to address the clubhouse problems with the Red Sox. And how he's learned to be less stubborn than he was during earlier managerial stints with the Rangers and Mets. (Hint: His time in Japan helped.)

It's all part of a transcript provided by the MLB Network of Valentine's conversation with Bob Costas for an episode of Studio 42 with Bob Costas that will air Monday at 9 p.m. It was a fascinating read that included . . . aw, you don't need me to tell you. Here's what they sent:

On whether any of the reported clubhouse behavior by Red Sox pitchers in 2011 would continue:
"I certainly hope not. I hope that its not because the big, bad policeman is standing on the corner and monitoring everything that is going on. I hope that its a conscious effort of players, coaches, clubhouse men, trainers all being on the same page, all understanding the difference between right and wrong. And I think they all know that if in fact that happened, that it was wrong and theyll try to right it . . .

"Im sure things will be addressed, but they need to be addressed and they need to get out of the way. We cant make like it really didnt happen. I wasnt here. I dont know what happened, and you know what Bob? I dont care what happened. The only thing I know is because it happened, I am here. Lets face it. So Im not going to try to figure out the past. Im going to try to figure out the present and the future."

On talking with Josh Beckett about his pitching rhythm:
"It was an amazing conversation that I had with him where he educated me about the method to the madness, and it is maddening, I think, for many to watch that. Many of the Yankees did complain. The reason they complained is in this competitive nature that Josh created, if he waited, they lost. They lost their rhythm. They lost their timing and they lost the at-bat. The more victories that he gained by waiting longer, the more he did it . . . Josh was very good. He watches video, he saw the cadence of some of these guys and he disrupted it. They say the job of a hitter is to time the pitch and the job of the pitcher is to disrupt the timing of the hitter. Well, thats what he was doing. Not with his pitches, but his pre-pitch setup. Now, the rule book does say that with nobody on base, it is twelve seconds. Now, maybe theyre going adjust that rule or maybe theyre not going to enforce that rule. Im not sure where were going with that."

On what he expects in 2012:
"Im expecting a wonderful spring training where I can get to know people. I think that this group of guys with the front office structure and the ownership structure and the fandom thats here, the 100-year anniversary of Fenway Park, there is going to be something special going on here this year and I think Im going to be part of it.

"I think Ill put the guys to work and make sure they understand that a foundation is very important and understand that theres nothing wrong with working hard and having fun as youre doing it to build this new group. This is not going to be the same team that started last year that everyone said was going to win 120 games and walk away with one of the toughest divisions in baseball. This is a team that has some question marks that we have to build around. This is a team that has gotten a little older over a year and this is a team that is competing against a lot tougher teams in the American League in 2012 than were here in 2011. So its time to wake up, smell the roses, drink the coffee and lets go to work.

On taking nine years to become a manager again:
"I dont think I was a fit in places like Seattle where theyre trying to build or Cleveland where they have their own sets of rules in things that theyre doing. Thats where the jobs were open. I think this was a questionable fit here and it became more of a fit the more I think Ben Cherington got to know me."

On accepting lineup suggestions from the front office and ownership:
"I dont think its anything new. I think Tom Grieve did that in Texas. Im sure he did. Steve Phillips did it in New York. Even Fred Wilpon a couple times made suggestions about what should be done and you know what? I did it a couple times because I was probably at that time in search of answers and you never know for sure whats that right answer. So yeah, lets try it. We can do that as long as youre willing to risk a few outs, a few innings and maybe even a game."

On what criticism of him has been fair in the past:
"I think early on I thought there was only one way and I got under a lot of peoples skin because of that. I learned that there is more than one way. I continue to try to appreciate and adjust, but there is a line where professionalism needs to exude itself and needs to raise above whatever else is going on, and I like my players to be as professional as they could possibly be."

On hows he learned to be less stubborn:
"I think that Japanese experience of six years of speaking another language in another country, eating another food, becoming a minority, let me understand that I couldnt just say it louder and I couldnt just say it with my name attached to it. I had to prove it and I had to also incorporate some of their ideas into what I was doing. Otherwise I couldnt last there."

On players not running balls out:
"It was too much to ask for the greatest player I ever managed. It was Rickey Henderson. The third time he did that in a Mets uniform was the last time he did it in a Mets uniform. He hit the one, he picked his jersey and he went looking into our dugout and the ball hit the top of the wall. He was at first base and a double play ensued and he was in a new uniform very shortly after."

On the infamous mustache he wore on June 9, 1999 during a New York Mets vs. Toronto Blue Jays game:
"The mustache and the glasses were basically Robin Venturas idea when he said, 'You have to go out there. You have to go out there.' . . . He gave me the glasses, I put them on. He gave me the hat, I put it on. I looked in the mirror and I said, 'No, I dont think this is going to get it,' and I took the eye-black stencil off and put one side on one side of my upper lip and I took the stencil off and put it on the other side and I looked at him and I said, 'What do you think?' and he said, 'Theyll never know.' Ten thousand dollars later and a couple days suspension, they all knew . . . No, I didnt know I was going to get caught. I was just standing there. I was on the bench. I was just standing down the stairs and I was only there for two batters. I wasnt there for the whole game. I guess I thought I would get noticed. I didnt know about caught."

On managing a National League-style of play:
"With 'Moneyball' and with a lot of the new terminologies that are out there, there is this term 'small ball', which is in fact baseball. Thats what baseball is. Home run ball, home run derby is that other thing that was played during the 1990s and strikeout ball is what you play in the backyard, but small ball is baseball, where youre actually advancing runners to gain an advantage to score runs to win the game. At times, baseball needs to be applied in all games that are close games. Sometimes, youre going to score more runs in one inning than the other team scores in the entire game, and those are blowouts and fun and days that I become a spectator a lot more than a director of what might be going on."

McAdam: Amid the champagne flowing, a focus on Farrell’s fight

McAdam: Amid the champagne flowing, a focus on Farrell’s fight

NEW YORK - Scenes from a celebrating clubhouse, late Wednesday night:

*As champagne flowed and was sprayed to every virtually corner of the visitor's clubhouse, plots were being hatched.

Some mischevious players gathered to plot out their plan of attack and select a new victim.

Once all teammates had been targeted, the focus shifted to others -- preferably the nicer dressed visitors.

Principal owner John Henry, dressed in a suit, was spared - both out of decorum, and, one senses, self-preservation. In past years, someone like Kevin Millar might have entertained such a notion, but this group lacks that same sort of bold figure.

Then, finally, the group spied manager John Farrell being interviewed across the way. The group -- mostly pitchers -- assembled and then circled the manager before finally dumping bottle after bottle of champagne on Farrell's head.

But this display went beyond prank. There was a genuine affection for the manager as the surrounding players whooped and hollared and the the bubbly flowed.

"He's a fighter,'' remarked Mookie Betts. "He instilled that in us. You fight to win.''

Torey Lovullo, who managed the team in Farrell's absence last year and has been a close friend for years, was overcome with emotion.

"I told him I loved him,'' Lovullo said. "For what he's done, to come out on the other side health-wise....he's the leader of this team. It's very satisfying for all of us that have been behind him.''

Players messed his hair, patted him on the back, and Farrell, with a huge smile, stood and -- literally -- soaked it in.

For the past few days, Farrell had gone to great lengths to turn the focus away from his personal story -- one that saw him beat back cancer a year ago -- and turn it back to the players.

Hours before the clinching, Farrell had deflected a few questions about his own story, insisting he wasn't the centerpiece to what had taken place.

But for a few minutes Wednesday night, he was.

 

*While there were prominent veterans celebrating a division title — from 40-something David Ortiz and Koji Uehara to team greybeards such as Dustin Pedroia -- it was hard not to notice the number of young players under 26 who form the Red Sox’ foundation.

Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, Eduardo Rodriguez, Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada are all young and still improving.

With Ortiz headed to retirement, Uehara eligible for free agency and uncertainty surrounding others, it's clear that the young core will form the nucleus of Red Sox teams for years to come.

The organization's hope is that that same group will help ensure against the up-and-down trajectory of recent seasons -- last, first, last, last and now first again.

"I think the way baseball's going these days,'' Henry told the Boston Herald, "if you don't have good young players, you're in trouble.''

"Looking ahead,'' added Pedroia, "we've got a lot of young players who are just going to get better.''

 

Rex Ryan’s erratic act is his lone consistency

Rex Ryan’s erratic act is his lone consistency

With the Bills 0-2 and sinking slowly in a morass of dysfunction last week, Rex Ryan was anything but his corny, wise-cracking, false-bravado-bringing self. He was subdued before the Bills took on the Cardinals.

Now, with the Bills having spanked Arizona and the Patriots up next, Rex is back at it with the erratic, putting forth an eyebrow-raisingly bad Bill Belichick impersonation to start the week then parachuting into a conference call with Julian Edelman posing as a Buffalo News reporter.

He’s the guy at the house party knocking over the chips and drinks at 9 p.m. and wondering where the motherscratching karaoke machine is because he wants to SING!!

Asked to account for the behavior change from last week to this, Rex’ verbatim response was a look into his addled mind.

“I was still myself, I think just part of it. This week, look guys, we know who we’re playing. When you look at the ESPN deal, I think they’re ranked number one---I don’t know. Like I said, they’re number two, but I don’t think we’re ranked number one so---look, we know the task is going to be a big one. The quarterback thing, yeah you got to be prepared and you actually have to be prepared for three different guys. They’re no dummies, they’re leaving it out there, they can know who it is, I get it. They’re certainly not going to do us any favors.”

Give that a quick re-read.

My verbal syntax and wandering trains of thought aren’t evidence of an ordered mind either, so I do empathize with Rex. But neither am I the head coach of one of 32 entries in the NFL, a pretty high-profile league in which an ordered presentation from the guy in charge is usually a positive.

I spoke at length with Tim Graham – who really does work for the Buffalo News – during our Quick Slants Podcast this week.

Rex’ constant insistence on his own authenticity feels to me like a misdirection. He chooses who he’s going to be and how he’s going to be each week. That’s the only consistent thing about him, other than the fact that he is an eminently likable guy specifically because he is so vulnerable.

 For a guy that wants to projecting an image of a guy who just doesn’t give a s***, he spends a lot of time thinking about this stuff.  

“I learned a long time ago, you got to be yourself in this league and that [acting like Bill Belichick] wouldn’t have worked,” Ryan explained. “If I tried to be like Bill Belichick that would never work for me, just like, not that he ever would, but if he’s going to try to be like somebody else, that ain’t going to work for him. And so, at least one thing we have in common is the fact that we know you better be yourself in this league and look, I think it’s hilarious when he’s on there because that’s who he is but it’s great and he does it better than anybody else. Some guys that try to copy that style, they’re phonies. Belichick does it, that’s who he is. [Gregg] Popovich is probably the closest thing in the NBA. Like those guys are classics but that’s who they are and they’re fantastic and I think the record speaks for itself but you talk about a consistent guy, Bill Belichick is the most consistent guy there is and I try to be consistent, albeit in a much different way.”

Consistent in his inconsistency. Great fun at parties. No way to go through life as an NFL head coach.